Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 1, Page 12
Fall 1993
On Campus
Inspiring Renaissance educators

     ASPIRE, the College of Education's program for minority students,
means success for those enrolled in the two-year-old program.
     Officially called the Academic Support Program Inspiring Renaissance
Educators, ASPIRE has a 100 percent retention rate. All 14 members of its
first-year class returned to the University after successfully completing
their freshman year, according to Gail Rys, program director.
     This fall, ASPIRE has enrolled 15 new students, including seven
Hispanic students and two Native Americans from Delaware, for a total of 49
     "We're especially pleased that African-American men have enrolled in
the program as they are under-represented in schools and are important as
role models," Jim Shaw, ASPIRE coordinator, says.
     The goal of ASPIRE is to attract minority students to the field of
education and also help them make a successful transition from high school
to college. "That first year is critical, and advisement, learning study
skills and support are the keys. The students we attract are highly
qualified, but college-level studies are more demanding," Shaw says.
     Students meet with advisers on a biweekly basis and take one-credit
courses in self-management and study skills. They also are enrolled as a
group in a required core course in math, science, education or social
studies. They meet for an informal program one Saturday a month and
sometimes have outside speakers.
     Rys teaches one of the support courses, enabling her to give
assistance when needed. "Students keep a journal for the course so I know
what is going on. If they have a problem with a roommate, for example, I
tell them to talk to their resident adviser to see what can be done to
change the situation," she says.
     The older students act as mentors to the new students, and leaders
tend to emerge from the group. For example, one student took it upon
himself to give everyone a wake-up call to make sure they attended the
Saturday morning sessions.
     By the year 2000, approximately 30 percent of the nation's school
children are expected to be non-white, but only 5 percent of the teachers
are predicted to be minorities, according to Rys.
     ASPIRE encourages qualified African-Americans, Hispanics and Native
Americans to consider careers in elementary and special education to meet
the needs of future generations, she says.
                                                  -Sue Swyers Moncure